Should you worry about your child’s anxiety

Caring for the physical well-being and safety of your child can be difficult, but there are usually clear signs if they are not well.  What can be more challenging is taking care of their psychological well-being.  But should you worry about your child’s anxiety or are their worries just a natural part of childhood?

Whatever your age, or life circumstance, stress and anxiety is experienced by us all.  And while its cause and its effects may look quite different, left unchecked it can be devastating.   Affecting how we eat, how we sleep and impacting our health on all levels.  And in ways that can cause serious long-term effects. 

Feelings of anxiety escalate when we don’t know what is happening or don’t feel in control

Now imagine how this feels for your child who will often experience a sense of not feeling in control of their lives.  And without the voice or opportunity to do much about it alone.

To manage life within this chaotic world, we all need to find our own sense of space.  Whether physically or mentally, we need time to ground ourselves, to stay in touch with what is occurring on the inside.  For some, this involves mindfulness techniques or focused breathing.  For others, listening to gentle music or taking the dog for a walk.

Finding inner calm can help us to feel better and more ready to face the things we are less in control of

The trouble comes however, if every time we have those moments of “down time”, we overlook the importance of allowing ourselves to disconnect.  Any attempt at inner reflection is going to be derailed if we find ourselves reaching for the screen in our pocket.  With instant updates, increased sensationalism and demands for instant productivity, it is no wonder that levels of anxiety are on the rise. 

Our children are picking up on all these anxieties, and they are having a tough time. 

With increasing levels of anxiety and stress related illness, three-year olds are being prescribed sleeping medication, under-fives are receiving antidepressants and diagnosis for ADHD, diabetes, obsessive compulsive disorder, and severe anxiety are on the rise.  With links to childhood obesity, depression, emotional instability, and mental illnesses, it is having a huge impact in the classroom, where children need to be happy and calm to do well. 

Young children’s tremendous optimism naturally drops during childhood as they become more self-aware and self-critical.  But unmanaged, our teenagers can become deeply disillusioned, with the world and their place in it.  With depression, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, an increasing problem.

How is your child managing feelings of anxiety before they become unmanageable?

How are you supporting your child to find their own sense of self?  Where can they go to be free of noise and excessive movement?  Do you guarantee times free of screens, such as mealtimes, or before bed?  Children are growing and developing at such a rapid rate.  They need moments of calm if they are to manage these changes.  Otherwise, your child’s anxieties may become too much for them to handle.

This session is taken from our course: The Happy Child

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.   www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk

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